Developing a Mission Statement & Philosophy for a Library Media Program

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you work in a school library, you probably understand how important it is to develop a coherent mission and philosophical approach. This lesson discusses some of the things you should think about while creating your mission.

Why Mission Statements and Philosophies Count

As the head library media specialist at Paxton Elementary, Emily has been feeling like her program is a little incoherent. She sees students of all ages for library classes, and she helps teachers integrate technology into their classes.

She also manages the circulation of a broad collection. Still, although Emily is never at a loss for what to do, she often wishes there was something more tying the different aspects of her work together.

What Emily realizes she needs is a mission statement, or a strong statement of purpose, for her library media program. She realizes that the mission statement will also reflect and explain the philosophy, or underlying beliefs, guiding the program.

Emily understands that a mission and philosophy will:

  • Help others understand what her program is all about.
  • Guide choices about the collection and program development.
  • Build coherence into her own work and that of her colleagues.
  • Help her raise funds and other support for her program.

A strong mission statement can help determine how a school library media program is used.

Aligning with Your School

First, Emily looks to the mission statement of Paxton Elementary itself to guide her brainstorming and development. Along with a committee of parents, teachers, and other specialists, Emily starts to make a list of the key values reflected in the school's mission statement.

Then, she thinks about what ways her library media program mimics, and contributes to, the overall mission of the school.

Emily knows that not all schools have mission statements, and she thinks colleagues at schools without them might look to district mission statements to guide their work.

As Emily does this alignment work, she sees that one of the core values in the Paxton mission statement is that the school help children develop holistically. A parent points out that she could explain that one of the library media program's missions is to help children develop personal passions, around literacy, and technology, and that this will align with the overall mission of the school.

Following Guidelines

As Emily continues to develop her mission statement and philosophy, she realizes there are some guidelines she can look to.


First, Emily looks at the national standards set forth by organizations like the American Library Association. She also looks at the Common Core State Standards for literacy and technology.

These guidelines help Emily think about what she can incorporate, into her library's mission, to help ensure that her program directly works toward alignment with national standards.


Emily's state also sets forth specific standards and guidelines with regard to what a school library media program should do. Reviewing these standards and ideas helps Emily develop some more local flavor, to her mission statement, and philosophy.

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